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Grenfell Tower fire cause: faulty fridge freezer sparked blaze and insulation failed safety tests, say police

Latest from the London  Evening Standard as above:

A close study of this disaster will reveal similarities in several ways to what Montserrat experienced even to this day from the onset of volcanic activity in 1995 and fatal event captured in this Special Edition remembering June 25, 1997.

Police: we are looking at all charges including manslaughter, and all firms involved

By Justin davenport, David Churchill, NIcholas Cecil

The full extent of failings behind the Grenfell Tower inferno was laid bare today as police revealed that a fire started by a faulty fridge-freezer ignited cladding and insulation that have not passed new safety tests.

Scotland Yard issued an alert over materials used on the west London tower after samples caught light easily during new independent checks. 

Officials were so concerned at the findings that the information was immediately shared with the Government. It has alerted councils. 

The tests on insulation samples taken from the tower were carried out by experts employed by Scotland Yard, which is carrying out a criminal investigation into how the fire started and why it took hold so easily.

Today police also said they will consider manslaughter charges as part of their investigation. Officers have started seizing relevant documents from various organisations.

The Met said officials had established that the blaze started in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer. 

A fridge fire is believed to have broken out on the fourth floor of the North Kensington block last week. 

At least 79 people are feared to have died.

Police said the fridge-freezer, FF175BP, had not previously been linked to any fires or subject to any recall. 

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack, who is overseeing the investigation, said early tests had been carried out on the cladding and insulation installed on Grenfell Tower during a recent £10 million refit.

Luxury flat residents complain rehousing Grenfell families ‘unfair’

She said: “What we are being told is that the cladding and the insulation failed all safety tests.

“The insulation was more flammable than the cladding. Tests show the insulation samples combusted soon after the test started.

“We have immediately shared the data with the Department for Communities and Local Government. [It is] sharing the information with local councils.”

Ms McCormack said the investigation “will seek to establish how the fire started and how quickly it took hold — the speed was unexpected.

Inside Grenfell Tower

We will also seek to understand what happened to each and every person who died in the fire.”

Previously, police said they would examine everything from the cause of the fire to the management of the building, recent refurbishments and fire safety measures and whether panels were fitted unlawfully.

Celotex, an Ipswich-based company, has said it made the insulation which fitted between the cladding and the concrete wall of the tower.

The firm said the product had Class 0 rating, which prevented flames from spreading and limited the amount of heat released.

Police said the number of people who had died or were missing and presumed dead remained at 79, a figure which has not changed since Monday.

However, Ms McCormack said the figure could still change and urged anyone who might have been in the tower and had not yet contacted the authorities to come forward. 

She said neither the Home Office nor her inquiry were interested in the immigration status of anyone living there.

“Our priority is to identify all those who died — we do not want there to be any hidden victims,” she added.

A total of 250 officers led by an experienced homicide detective are working on the inquiry.

Prosecutors are advising on possible corporate manslaughter charges.

Ms McCormack said officers had begun seizing documents from organisations involved but that nobody had been questioned because it is “way too early”.

She said charges of manslaughter and other criminal breaches, including potential breaches of regulations, would be considered.

So far, police have seized hundreds of hours of CCTV, listened to 600 999 calls and started taking statements from survivors. Officers are continuing a “painstaking search” of the tower.

In recent days concern has focused on the cladding panels fitted to the tower during the multi-million-pound refurbishment.

So far, the Government has received samples from 11 high-rise buildings in eight local authority areas in the UK where the cladding has failed safety tests, including a number in London.

Premier Inn also revealed “concerns” today that cladding used on some of its buildings may not meet safety regulations. The hotel chain said three of its properties — in Maidenhead, Brentford and Tottenham — have been investigated during a “detailed assessment” of its estate.

A spokeswoman said the material was not the same as that used to clad Grenfell Tower. However, she said the company had called in an expert to review the safety of its buildings, who had confirmed they were safe.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham whose artist friend Khadija Saye died in the fire, has said issues relating to sprinklers, fire doors and the cladding should be investigated. He has asked why arrests are not being made.

Residential blocks in Barnet, Brent, Haringey, and Newham are understood to have cladding similar to Grenfell’s. But the problem may be far wider, with the safety spotlight shifting on to schools, hospitals, students accommodation, hotels and office blocks.

Samples of cladding were taken yesterday in Barnet where three blocks — Granville Point, Harpenmead Point and Templemead Point — are fitted with external rain screen panels of aluminium composite material.

They are believed to be the same type, or similar, to cladding on tower blocks in Camden which the council has already started removing. The insulation behind the cladding on the social housing blocks in Camden and Barnet is understood to be non-combustible.

In Haringey, the Newlon Housing Trust confirmed that its 22-storey Rivers Apartments block, completed in spring 2015, is clad with Reynobond PE.

The building has a sprinkler system and other fire safety measures.

The London Fire Brigade carried out an extensive audit yesterday, making some “straightforward recommendations”.

A Newlon spokesman said: “With regard to the status of the cladding, at the end of last week we asked the leading independent experts the Building Research Establishment to review its design and specification and we are waiting for their technical recommendations.”

Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner hand-delivered a letter to Octavia Housing at 3am today after being informed by Brent council’s chief executive, Carolyn Downes, that cladding on Elizabeth House, High Road, Wembley, “failed” a fire safety test.

This morning, Grahame Hindes, chief executive of Octavia Housing, said: “The safety of our residents is always our top priority.

“We were therefore very disappointed to hear this morning that some of the panels on one of our recently completed schemes in Wembley do not meet the highest standards expected by the Building Research Establishment.”

He stressed that Elizabeth House is a modern purpose-built block with a comprehensive fire strategy and a range of fire safety features including sprinklers in all flats.

Councils around the country have sent off cladding samples from tower blocks to undergo testing, including in Sheffield, Halifax and Salford.

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20 Years June 25, 1997

20 Years June 25, 1997

A long overdue remembrance, emphasising healing and commitment

Memorial Services to remember June 25, 1997 deaths

On this Sunday, June 25, 2017 the Hon. Premier installed a committee to organize a 20th Year Remembrance ceremony of the 19 persons who died during the tragic event of volcanic activity on June 25, 1997. A plaque displaying the names of the victims, will be unveiled at the main service at the Cultural Centre and installed at the National Museum immediately after. (See Invitation to all in this Special Edition and on TMR Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/themontserratreporter/

Memorial Services and Fundwww.montserratreporter.org – July 16, 1997

Devastation in the village of Harris’

There were two memorial services held last week: one on Sunday afternoon and another on Tuesday afternoon, the day which was set aside as a national day of mourning.

Offices were officially asked to close at two o’clock on Tuesday, in honour of those persons who lost their lives or are still missing, though believed to be dead, in the tragic pyroclastic flows of Wednesday, June 25, 1997. The flows descended on villages from Streatham, Windy Hill, Harris, Farms Bethel, Spanish Pointe through Trants on the northeast and eastern end of the island, completely destroying some of them.

Both services were well attended by government dignitaries and officials, as well as family members of the dead and missing and the public in general.

Plans are being put in place to establish a fund for families of the victims of last week’s pyroclastic flow. This was put in motion with the offering that was taken up at the services.

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Home demolished by the power and volume of the flow

THE VOLCANO and DEATH

Below is the same area two weekes before

Devastation in the village of Harris’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the conditions the British Governor of Montserrat and the local Government never wanted to exist, is that they would ever have to report that lives were lost as a direct result of volcanic activity in Montserrat.

On the night of July 18, 1995, residents not far away from Soufriere Hills could hear what they later described as roaring sounds like those that come from jet planes, and it was soon realised by all that a volcano that lay in waiting at English Crater in Soufriere Hills had come alive.

Soon after from several and continuous radio broadcasts, and interviews from scientists, the Governor and the Chief Minister, his office and the offices of the Emergency Operating Centre (EOC), we were to learn that there has always been this volcano, that there have been activities at approximately 30 – 35 year intervals since the turn of this century; that there has been studies, one as recent as the mid 80s, which suggested that there will be serious activities around this time.

No attention whatever was paid to these facts and so here we were in July, less than a month under two years ago, with an erupting volcano and every resident as ignorant as ever to the dangers that this could pose for Montserrat. Since that time it has been a down hill battle, which may has not yet culminated, but which has now directly claimed the lives of at least 10 people with more almost certain to be confirmed, when the ash becomes cool enough to be cleared in some way.

Home demolished by the power and volume of the flow

June 25, 1997 will be long remembered as the worst day of the volcano (I hope), because lives were lost. And the question that is being asked, “Could this have been avoided?” Amazingly, the homes in Long Ground are still standing untouched but for the September 17 last year’s eruption. It may well be that the Tar River valley is their protection or perhaps it is early yet.

MVO Reports

The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) report for that morning read as follows: The latest earthquake swarm has just reached a peak, with 4 or 5 earthquakes occurring every minute. At the time of highest activity, the hybrid earthquakes could more accurately be described as continuous tremor. There have been several small pyroclastic flows in Mosquito Ghaut in the last hour. Observations of the dome last night showed that the top of Mosquito Ghaut is the only active area of the dome at the moment, as the focus of activity has switched from the eastern side to the north in the last few days.

Further pyroclastic flow activity is expected, and the high level of activity means that these flows could happen at any time and be larger than before. The current area of activity makes Mosquito Ghaut the most likely pathway, but further flows in Gages, Tuitt’s or Tar River are probable as well.”

The following recently became a standard part of the report: Bramble Airport remains operational, but the public are reminded that it is open only for essential travel purposes. The sirens will be tested as usual this afternoon.”

Now following is the evening report following the disaster: “An intense swarm of hybrid earthquakes began at 11 am, and rapidly escalated to repetitive events which merged into continuous tremor after 12:15 p.m. At about 1 p.m. major pyroclastic flow activity began in Mosquito Ghaut, which generated an ash cloud to over 30,000 ft within minutes. The flow traveled into Farms River to Trants Bridge. Down river of Bramble the flows fanned out into Bethel and Spanish Point almost to the sea. On the northern side Farms and Trants villages were affected, and the surge reached to Trants bridge. A total of at least 2 square kilometers of land was covered by the pyroclastic flow and surge.

The lower half of Harris village was also impacted, and an ash surge traveled from the Farrell’s area down to the west at least as far as Dyers, and into the upper reaches of Dyer’s Ghaut. There was no activity in the Gages valley during the afternoon.

During the time of the reported activities above, there were people tending their animals and gardens in the Farrell’s and surrounding areas, some of whom perished; there were people in Harris’ and areas way down to Trants, Bethel and Spanish Pointe, Bramble village etc. who were either visiting their properties or living there. Except for those properties on the perimeter of Mosquito Ghaut in Harris’, individuals were able to avoid the fury of the ash surge from the flow by moving to even higher grounds, but not those in the other areas which were all on lower ground and not far from the ghaut which became more shallow as it nears the sea.

So that just as the report above described, confirmed by the eye witness account of Roy ‘Slim’ Daley from Bramble village who was in Harris’ at the time. He said: “I saw the surges coming back up the hill from the pyroclastic flows, which moved at incredible speed down towards Farms and Trants, breaking over the walls at Brambles and rushing down towards Spanish Pointe through Bethel.”

Fatalities

Soon we were to hear the calls of the authorities for persons to advise them of persons who were known to have been in the areas for one reason another. Both the Governor and the Chief Minister appeared on radio to tell the nation about the rescue efforts that were underway, never admitting then that there might be fatalities following the activities.

But having seen the results of the forerunning pyroclastic flows, I was certain that the persons who I discovered were in their homes or in the area, had met an unfortunate end.

Other than the sketchy and well monitored reports that came from Government Information Unit (GIU) and ZJB, the rest of the local media was reduced to press conferences which were cut short and severely limited by interviewees who gave much too long answers, having been denied views from the helicopter or access to the area other than the rest of the general public was entitled to.

By the end of the following day, the admission of fatalities was announced and the count grew each day from four to ten by Monday. It was on Saturday when the CM came close to saying that there may be more dead who are still difficult to get to because of the still searing hot ash that lay deposited on the ground.

THE DISASTER

Helicopters involved in the search and rescue missions

I was finally afforded a trip to look at the damage done on Wednesday by EMAD, on a helicopter which is one of four helicopters brought in from different sources to aid the ‘search and rescue’ effort.

The trip was not like any I’ve had and did not afford me the opportunity for detail as I rode with David Brandt and 2 others, plus Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) camera man and video cameras. with another from Trinidad. It was only a 20-minute trip, far too short.

However, the devastation is much greater than I imagined. The lands (forest) between Tuitts and Mosquito Ghaut is no more. Although not filled with material the pyroclastic was extremely powerful as it left the volcano and that’s when the surge immediately went over Farrells and down Streatham and accross Windy Hill. The Farrells estate house is completely gone and so is Mandy’s garage on the corner below the grave yard. The flow went through the bottom of Windy Hill and well across and into the ghaut beyond.

Escapee

One eye witness woman who escaped and who eventually went back to collect money she left in a vehicle, found it, but had walked through Water Works, retracing her steps to get to it. She said she had to go reap the carrots, because she was under so much pressure from government to supply vegetables to shelters.

She got the money but the vehicle she had to leave. She described the flow that she saw as like “sweet oil” running down the hill, noting how the flow backed up when the heat seemed to separate from the flow.

Looking down on the Harris’ road Mosquito ghaut is next to it. The surge reached across the road to the Police Station and burnt all those houses including the Church. These were not completely demolished but nevertheless destroyed, from the Morgan’s house down the hill towards farm, then there is one mass of destruction down through Farms, Bethel, Spanish Pointe, Trants.

Since that of course more flows and reports have stated that more damage was done in Harris’. I could see the walls of some of the houses in Farms, Bramble village and Spanish Pointe, but it is obvious that truly there may be about 10 feet of material lying on the lands.

Trants village was completely demolished, hardly recognised any walls standing and it did seem such a vast area.

I saw how the flow over Farrells ran down and into the top of Belham.

I can now report that for Plymouth, we can expect worse to come along, it already looks a disaster. The flows that have been going down Gages and Fort Ghaut seemed to have damaged houses high up on the Gages corner and down the fringes of the ghaut. The Catholic convent and infant school and even the Church are now like the rest of the property in that vicinity are now in line for certain disaster as long as flows continue. At the foot of Gages mountain, the ghauts as I can remember are somewhat shallow, so that serious flows are likely to spread early over to Amersham as it has reportedly done.

I hardly had time for any detail or even good photographs as I was shooting through the helicopter sealed windows. Looking at the photographs, I do not remember where the various scenes are, and I was unable to make notes.

The helicopters are being operated from Geralds and joining them is that from the British navy ship.

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Witness Family and friends are still in thereef_3977854

London Grenfell Tower fire

© Licensed to London News Pictures. 14/06/2017. London, UK. Falling burning debris at the scene of a huge fire at Grenfell tower block in White City, London. The blaze engulfed the 27-storey building with 200 firefighters attending the scene. There were reports of people trapped in the building. Photo credit: Guilhem Baker/LNP

Ragin fire horror at Grenfell Tower: 12 dead and 18 critically ill –Emergency teams are pictured carrying bodies from the building amid reports the blaze began with an exploding fridge.

SKYNews

By Greg Heffer, News Reporter

At least 12 people have died in a huge fire on a West London estate, and officials expect the death toll will continue to rise with residents still missing and 18 people in critical care.

Firefighters were called to the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in North Kensington at 12.54am on Wednesday after the blaze broke out.

It is reported to have been sparked by an exploding fridge.

Witnesses described how they watched people jump out of the high-rise block, while a baby was dropped out of a window and caught on the street below.

‘Fire started after neighbour’s fridge exploded’

Six hospitals across the capital are treating 78 people, with 18 in critical care.

Police warned the number of dead is expected to rise during “a long and complex recovery operation” but it was too early to say whether the death toll would increase considerably. They could not put a number on those missing.

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said: “Whilst we may have accessed every floor, that is not the same as a full search of the whole building.

“Sadly I don’t anticipate that there will be further survivors.”

Emergency teams have been seen carrying bodies from the remains of the building.

Image: Debris fell from the tower as it was engulfed by a huge inferno

:: LIVE: Latest developments from the Grenfell Tower fire

A firefighter investigates a floor after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Grenfell Tower, built in 1974, contains 120 flats and is thought to have been home to between 400 and 600 people.

Friends and relatives of those missing are using social media to appeal for information about their loved ones.

More than 250 firefighters and 44 fire engines battled the blaze on Wednesday, with some sustaining “minor injuries”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn comforts a local resident at St Clement’s Church in West London

A structural engineer assessed the tower’s stability but judged the building was not in danger of collapsing.

Sky News Correspondent Mark White, who is on the Latimer Road side of the tower block, reported the fire has now “for the most part died down” but “every now and again there’s still an eruption of flames from one of the window”.

He added firefighters had been “making their way systematically through flat after flat, room after room” as they search through the debris and collapsed ceilings for those unaccounted for.

Steve Apter, director of safety and assurance at London Fire Brigade, revealed firefighters have got through “particularly arduous conditions” to reach the top floor of the tower.

Their work is expected to last into Thursday, with drones also being used to search the building.

The inferno affected every floor of the tower block, which is on the Lancaster West Estate, near the Westfield shopping centre.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton described the blaze as an “unprecedented incident”, something she had not seen in her 29 years of service.

She said the cause of the blaze was not yet known and was being investigated.

The fire has led to the closure of London Underground services between Hammersmith and Edgware Road on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines. The A40 is closed between Marylebone Road and the Northern Roundabout with other local roads and bus services affected.

As the fire ravaged the tower block, loud bangs could be heard as the blaze shattered windows in the tower, while debris and ash fell to the ground.

Mahad, who escaped Grenfell Tower, said the blaze began when his neighbour’s fridge exploded.

He told Sky News: “There was no alarm, there was no bell, there was no sense of urgency.

“My neighbour is the one who knocked on our door. He said it was his house where the explosion happened. He said his fridge had exploded.”

Other residents said Muslims who were awake to eat before beginning their daily Ramadan fast raised the alarm when the fire broke out.

A local residents group said its previous warnings about the tower’s safety had fallen on “deaf ears”.

In its blog post dated from November 2016, the group warned “only a catastrophic event” would expose the issues residents had with the building – including its single entry and exit point.

Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, secretary of the all-party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, said the Government has resisted calls to install sprinkler systems in high-rise blocks in the wake of the 2009 Lakanal House tragedy.

Grenfell Tower was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.6m – including the installation of new exterior cladding – with the work completed in May last year.

Following the blaze, the Government announced emergency checks are to be carried out on tower blocks refurbished in the same way.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which manages the tower block, said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.

It said: “We are aware that concerns have been raised historically by residents. We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations.

“While these investigations continue with our co-operation, our core priority at the moment is our residents.”

Residents of the tower block have been encouraged to go to the nearby Westway Sports Centre as other relief centres reach capacity.

Sky News Senior Correspondent David Bowden, who is at one of the centres, reported a “very, very tense situation” as families wait to receive news of their loved ones.

He said: “It’s all boiling over and police now are just trying to calm it down.”

The Salvation Army and St Clements Church are urging the public to donate clothes, food and toiletries for those displaced by the fire.

On Wednesday night, dozens gathered for a vigil and to light candles outside Notting Hill Methodist Church, in the shadow of the tower.

Many were moved to tears after a moment of silence. The Rev. Mike Long said: “Let light triumph over all that is rotten, that is desperate and that defies our understanding.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said a “great many questions” would be asked about the fire, which has been declared a “major incident”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested spending cuts to local authorities funding could have contributed to the blaze as he claimed “searching questions” would come from the tragedy.

Prime Minister Theresa May said there will be a “proper investigation”, adding “If there are any lessons to be learned they will be, and action will be taken.”

Visit the site www.themontserratreporter.com or our Facebook page: The Montserrat Reporter for more and up to date

:: Anyone concerned for loved ones can call an emergency hotline on 0800 0961 233.

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tower-firefighters.jpg

Grenfell Tower fire: council officials ‘yet to respond to more than 130 offers to rehouse victims’

 ‘There is no lack of volunteers or of offers to help – just lack of coordination and organisation’

The Independent Online

Kensington and Chelsea Council and the borough’s tenant management organisation have yet to respond to more than 130 offers to rehouse people who were forced to leave their homes after the Grenfell Tower fire, according to a volunteer helping the relief efforts.

Michal Nachmany offered to host six victims and compiled a list of people willing to put up dispossessed families. 

But after submitting the details to both the council and its tenant management organisation, the London School of Economics researcher said that neither had replied to her offers to help those displaced by the fire, which claimed the lives of at least 58 people.  

“I know that the emails were received (verified by phone), but I don’t know if any action has been taken,” Ms Nachmany told The Guardian.

“Hearing that people are still sleeping on the floor, rather than at least spending the first few days with host families is heartbreaking and outrageous. For example, I offered to host six people. 

“Never heard from anyone, and I doubt if any matchmaking was done between the local offers and the people in need. 

“There is no lack of volunteers or of offers to help – just lack of coordination and organisation.”

Ms Nachmany said she has no idea if any of the offers have been sent on to displaced residents in north Kensington – but council officials insist “all residents of Grenfell Tower who have requested help have been placed in hotels”.

 “We are now looking to source interim accommodation for those Grenfell Tower residents and also trying to assist, where possible, elderly and vulnerable residents from surrounding areas who have been unable to return to their homes due to the safety cordon,” they said in a statement. 

“We plan to house residents of Grenfell Tower as locally as we can.  But we may well need help from our close neighbours. We want to rehouse people in a good home as quickly as we can. The Council is committed to looking after the immediate and longer-term housing needs of all those affected by the fire.”

Residents complained two years ago about the refurbishment of the building being done “using cheap materials” and workmanship that “cut corners”, they told The Independent.

They later claimed that Conservative-led council, owner of the building consumed by fire on Wednesday, had done nothing to address their concerns.

Numerous survivors of the inferno have claimed the exterior cladding – said to be a cheaper and more flammable than another available option to the supplier – was linked to the way the fire spread so rapidly up the outside of the tower.

Minutes from an emergency residents’ meeting held on 17 March 2015 show that more than 100 people living in the block produced a long list of issues about the refurbishment.

Problems raised by residents included “grave concerns at standard of works inside a number of residents’ properties”

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US congressman Steve Scalise shot at Virginia baseball practice

A bullet hole in a window at the scene of the shooting
A bullet hole in a window at the scene of the shooting Senior US congressman Steve Scalise has been shot at a baseball practice in northern Virginia.

A congressional aide said Mr Scalise, who rallies Republican votes in the House of Representatives, was hit during the training session in Alexandria attended by up to 25 politicians, plus their staff, ahead of an annual game.

Fellow Republican Mo Brooks, representative for Alabama, said the majority whip from Louisiana was on the ground with “a hip wound”.

Video – Trump Monitoring Baseball Shooting (Wochit News)

Mr Brooks, who applied pressure to Mr Scalise’s injury, said the 51-year-old “crawled into the outfield, leaving a trail of blood”.

“He was dragging his body from the second base infield to the outfield to get away from the shooter while all this firing was going on,” he said.

A law enforcement official, who was not authorised to speak by name, said the shooting was being regarded as a criminal act and not an act of terrorism.

The White House has announced that a scheduled public appearance by Donald Trump on Wednesday will be cancelled as a result of the shooting.

Congressman Steve Scalise is said to have been hit during a shooting at a baseball practice Congressman Steve Scalise is said to have been hit during a shooting at a baseball practice

Mr Trump was scheduled to appear at the Department of Labour to sign an executive order.

Congressional activity was also curtailed and police said they would put in place a “robust police presence”.

Police confirmed the shooter was in custody.

Mr Brooks said other people were also shot, including two police officers.

Police chief Michael Brown said officers were on the scene within three minutes of receiving a call about the shooting at 7am (local time) and exchanged gunfire with the suspect.

Politicians from both US parties have offered condolences following the incident Politicians from both US parties have offered condolences following the incident

Republican Mike Bishop, from Michigan, said Mr Scalise was at second base when he was shot.

“I was looking right at him,” he told Detroit radio station WWJ. “He was a sitting duck.”

“We were doing batting practice,” said Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.

“All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. The gunman was over by the third base dugout with a clear view of the field.”

He said the gunman had “a rifle of some sort… a lot of ammo”.

Mr Scalise is said to be in a stable condition at George Washington University Hospital. Five people in total were taken to hospital for treatment.

Texas representative Roger Williams also reported that a member of his staff was shot at the practice.

Witness Katie Filous said she heard more than 20 shots while walking her dogs near the playing field.

She said the shooting went on for “quite a while”.

A police officer was hit by the gunman after he got out of a parked car and drew a handgun, according to Filous. She said the officer was then evacuated by helicopter.

Representative Brad Wenstrup told CBS News that he feared the violence could have been more serious.

“Fortunately secret service was here because Steve Scalise was here,” he said. “If they had not been here it would have been far worse.”

A law enforcement official said the FBI would be taking over the investigation. This is standard protocol in when federal officials are involved in attacks.

A statement issued by President Donald Trump said the situation was being monitored. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected,” it said.

On Twitter, he described Mr Scalise as “a true friend and patriot” who was “badly injured but will fully recover”.

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sky-news-logo

Huge fire engulfs west London Grenfell Tower block

Families try to find one another as a number of fatalities is confirmed and firefighters try to rescue those who remain trapped.

 
Full story: Huge fire started nearly 12 hours or so ago – engulfs Grenfell Tower block – Sky story
By Sunita Patel-Carstairs and Aubrey Allegretti, News Reporters

At least six people have been killed – and others remain trapped – in a large fire on a west London estate being battled by more than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines.

Hundreds of residents in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower have been evacuated from their flats in the burning building, and at least 70 people have been taken to five hospitals in the capital for treatment.

Witnesses described hearing screams, watching people jump out of the high-rise block and a baby being dropped out of a window and caught on the street below.

Fire at a tower block in Latimer Road
Image: Debris fell from the tower as it was engulfed by a huge inferno

Others told of seeing people shouting and waving from the windows for help, and residents shining torches from within as the inferno erupted in the dead of night.

Mahad, who escaped the fire-ravaged block, said the blaze began when his neighbour’s fridge exploded.

He told Sky News: “There was no alarm, there was no bell, there was no sense of urgency.

“My neighbour is the one who knocked on our door. He said it as his house where the explosion happened. He said his fridge had exploded.”

A structural engineer assessed the tower’s stability but judged the building was not in danger of collapsing.

Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy said: “I can confirm six fatalities at this time but this figure is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days.”

:: LIVE: Fire service chief confirms fatalities

Footage on social media showed the tower block engulfed in fire, with huge flames stretching over several floors.

The fire brigade said the fire had spread throughout the entire building, now covered in plumes of smoke with visible pockets of fire within the charred structure.

Mini explosions could be heard as the blaze shattered windows in the tower, while debris and ash fell to the ground.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton described it as an “unprecedented incident”, something she had not seen in her 29 years of service.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known, but is being investigated, she added.

Firefighters have managed to reach the 20th floor as they continue searching for remaining survivors.

Any residents unaccounted for who escaped are being urged to contact the emergency services to reassure concerned loves ones.

Reporting from the scene in the immediate aftermath of the blaze, Sky News producer Dan Cairns said residents had been told that if they received calls for help from people inside, to tell them they needed to try and “self-evacuate”.

He said they had been told “to put a cloth over their mouths and try to get out by themselves”.

Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives around 600 metres from the scene, said he feared the block could collapse.

He said: “It’s horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It’s gone. It’s just a matter of time before this building collapses. It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.

“People have been bringing water, clothes, anything they’ve got to help, out to the cordon. I have seen people coming out in their bedclothes – it’s just very distressing.”

Witness Samira Lamrani said she saw a woman try to save a baby by dropping it from a window “on the ninth or 10th floor”.

She said: “The windows were slightly ajar, a woman was gesturing that she was about to throw her baby and if somebody could catch her baby.

“Somebody did, a gentleman ran forward and managed to grab the baby.”

London Ambulance said it had sent a “number of resources” to the scene, including its Hazardous Area Response Team, after the fire was first reported at 12.54am.

It also confirmed 20 people are currently in critical care.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is visiting the site, said “a lot of people” were unaccounted for and that of the 120 flats in Grenfell Tower, many had four-bedrooms.

He added that questions needed to be answered in relation to the blaze.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “deeply saddened” by the “tragic loss of life” and has called a cross-party meeting.

Joanna O’Connor, a local resident, told Sky News: “At about 2am I was woken up by screaming, sirens and helicopters. We came outside and were confronted with the building that was completely engulfed in flames.

“It was a real shock and there were hundreds of people lining the streets, we could still hear screaming from the building and people were milling around in shock, crying.

“One of our neighbours, her sister, husband and children were in the building, it was their neighbours’ flat that caught fire. So it’s very close to us, we’ve got neighbours whose families are in that building.”

Celeste Thomas lives across the road from the tower and said residents and families were “trying to find each other” following the evacuation.

She said: “Police have moved everyone back out of direct sight but I can hear cracking and debris falling.”

The tower block – which was refurbished internally and externally last year – is situated on the Lancaster West Estate, between Latimer Road Underground station and Westfield’s White City shopping centre.

Transport for London said there was no service between Hammersmith and Edgware Road on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines, while the police said the A40 was closed in both directions, owing to the fire.

Nick Paget-Brown, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said several hundred people will have been in the tower when the fire broke out.

He said emergency centres have been set up for evacuated residents, and that the council is “providing as much support as we can”.

“Emergency services have set up a big cordon around the area, it’s quite hard to get accurate information but the council will be doing all it can.”

Grenfell Action Group said its warnings about safety fell on “deaf ears”.

In its blog post dated from November 2016, the group warned “only a catastrophic event” would expose the issues residents had with the building – including its one entry and exit and concerns about evacuation procedures.

Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, chairman of the all-party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, said the Government has resisted calls to install sprinkler systems in high-rise blocks in the wake of the 2009 Lakanal House tragedy.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who was a firefighter for 20 years, added: “There’s obviously a huge number of questions going to have to be asked about what happened.

“It’s a bit early to start pointing fingers, I would have thought.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the public to donate clothes, food and toiletries at St Clements Church for families displaced by the fire.

:: Anyone concerned for loved ones can call an emergency hotline on 0800 0961 233.

Posted in Featured, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Rowley TVS

Prime Minister condemns attack on Roman Catholic priest

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun 12, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley Monday condemned the attack and robbery of a popular Roman Catholic priest, who has been working with young people to help rid Trinidad and Tobago of crime.

Father Clive Harvey was robbed at gunpoint as he prayed at the Holy Rosary/St. Martin’s, Church in East Port of-Spain by three men at around 6.00 am (local time) on Monday. Harvey is the parish priest there.

Rowley TVS
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

In a statement, Prime Minister Rowley said that the attack on Father Harvey “by able-bodied, gun-toting men sadly represents the worst that exists within our communities.

“Notwithstanding what difficulties one may be facing in life there are limits beneath which the human form should not sink. Unfortunately, there are people who have chosen criminal conduct as a way of life and such persons, regardless of their circumstances, should be condemned in the strongest terms, as I so do now.”

Rowley said that these “miscreants have parents and I hope that somewhere in this country today there are a few parents who are hanging their heads in shame as they reflect in private as to what more they might have done to prevent any of our citizens from behaving in this despicable way”.

A statement issued by the Archdiocese of Port of Spain noted that Father Harvey was tied up and robbed by three men who threatened to kill him.

It said that the priest, who previously served as chaplain at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and parish priest in the volatile Laventille/Morvant area, and is actively involved in social and community programmes, had spent the night at the church to prepare for a seminar at the Seminary of the St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict.

The statement said that Father Harvey was tied up while the men ransacked the presbytery and took TT$1,000 (One Tt dollar =US$0.16 cents), a mobile phone and other items.

“The assailants also threatened to kill the priest,” the statement noted, adding that the priest managed to escape and made his way to a parishioner’s home where he contacted Archbishop Joseph Harris and the police.

Posted in Crime, International, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

guyana marijuana

Five detained in drug bust

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 12, CMC – Five people, including a woman, were arrested on Monday fter police intercepted a taxi and seized a quantity of marijuana.

guyana marijuanaIn a brief statement, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) said that bust occurred along the Aurora Public Road in Essequibo, when the car was stopped and searched.

The police said they were acting on a tip off and has not yet released the names of those arrested, including a taxi driver.

They said they found 25 taped parcels of the marijuana in a carton box in the car.  The five occupants were immediately arrested and taken in for questioning. They are expected to be charged later this week.

Posted in Crime, International, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

LIATT

LIAT pilots apologise for inconvenience, outline new agreement

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Jun 13, CMC – The President of the Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association (LIAPLA), Captain Carl Burke, has apologised to the travelling public in the Caribbean after pilots refused to fly the ATR72 aircraft operated by the regional carrier, LIAT, over salary increases.

“Well first of all, with the most recent situation which took place last week, I want to apologize to any persons that were inconvenienced and I want to give them all reassurance that the pilots normally, usually exhaust all means of negotiations with LIAT….,” Burke told WINN FM radio station here.

LIATTHe told radio listeners the LIAPLA had brought in an attorney to assist it with the negotiations and that “there was a deal that was brokered in the Attorney General Labour Minister’s office on the 24th of May and we thought that would have put the matter of negotiations to bed.

“Unfortunately the company did not follow through, or wrote us on the second of June indicating that they could not meet to some of the terms and conditions which were agreed to, but in general before any action is considered we always try to exhaust all means of negotiations that are arriving at….

“We just don’t take action like that and in this case the pilots had no alternative than to stop flying the ATR 72, I think that they could be viewed as being reasonable that they were negotiating a rate of pay for an aircraft that is not covered under your contract for four years, I think four years is a long time,” Burke said.

According to LIAT, it operates 10 ATR aircraft with the ATR72 capable of carrying 68 passengers, “by refusing to fly the ATR72 on the morning of June 7th, several aircraft and passengers were delayed at points of departure, including Trinidad, St Vincent, Tortola and Guyana”.

The airline which denied reports that it had ‘abandoned its pilots, said that “in this situation, the company’s priority remains to transport our loyal and paying passengers”.

Burke said that under the new the agreement that ended the three-day industrial action, “the pilots will start receiving the wage package or the new ATR salary from July 19th 2017”.

He said the retroactive payments will be in three tranches paid from August.

“So I guess August, September, October, and then there’s a gap and then there’s another schedule which will commence I think December for six payments. This was an agreement that was reached, it was formalized by way of a consent order which was filed in the Industrial Court on Saturday,” he said, adding “this has basically brought a close to the negotiations with LIAT as it pertains to wage packages with the pilots”.

Ask by his radio host as to whether the agreement will work given that the airline and its pilots have had a series of disputes over the years linked to pay and work conditions,’ Burke told listeners he was confident it would succeed.

“Well it should because as I said it is now a legal obligation on the part of the company, the mere fact that it is filed in the Industrial Court, any breach of the agreement, any party will be charged with contempt of court, we are hoping that everything stays on schedule, that we can have this matter behind us and we can move forward.”

LIAT’s main shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Efforts to get other regional governments to become shareholders have so far proven futile.

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, International, Local, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

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